‘Slave’ doll embroils Pratt

for The Brooklyn Paper
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A student art project with racial overtones was hastily taken down from the walls of Pratt Institute — and now the art and design school’s administration is scrambling to respond to it.

The project consisted of a black doll and a clay figure with chains wrapped around their necks and labels reading, “Slave for Sale” and “Special offer: Buy one, get babies free.”

The piece was dated March 25, 1807 — 201 years to the day from when the unsigned piece was installed.

Campus security took it down within hours of its installation — but news of the controversial work started trickling out of the security office.

Eventually, Pratt President Thomas Schutte formed a committee to investigate the matter, which met for the first time on Friday, April 25, four weeks after the incident.

The identity of the students is unknown, but a source told The Brooklyn Paper that the artwork was created in response to an assignment given by a teacher.

It is unclear whether or not the piece got a passing grade.


May 1, 2008; 3:02 pm — Pratt Institute President Thomas Schutte did not, in fact, meet with a committee last Friday. Rather, he was scheduled to meet with a professor with knowledge of the matter individually on Friday, May 2. A spokesperson for Pratt said the institute had not yet determined whether the work was student-made.

Updated 4:01 pm, November 10, 2010
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Reasonable discourse

Oscar Robertson from Cincinnati says:
Even now I wonder: Did they think we'd riot because we were primitive animals, beasts who could do nothing but destroy, or maybe, just maybe, did they worry bcause they knew we had good cause and were entitled to our rage ?
April 27, 2008, 6:26 pm
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Is art not allowed to be controversial anymore? Is the message that we are only allowed to express ideas that are so bland and seperate from our real experiences that no one could possibly be offended by them?
We really ought to address the underlying reasons as to why people would be offended by images (such as still existing racial attitudes held over from the slave days, the existence of slavery in our own time in other parts of the world) rather than censoring the people who choose to bring the conversation forward.
April 28, 2008, 10:55 am

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